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Football: Timing of Urban Meyer’s retirement saves Ohio State millions

Urban Meyer watches the Buckeye offense in the third quarter of the game against Penn State on Sept. 29. Ohio State won 27-26. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Photo Editor

Urban Meyer will leave more than just his legacy at Ohio State.

When the Buckeyes head coach retires Jan. 2, he will leave millions of dollars on the table, abandoning nearly $28 million in guaranteed pay had he remained as head coach until his contract expired in 2023.

Meyer was set to receive an annual base salary of $840,000, with guarantees of $4,544,000 per year, according to an addendum in his contract signed in March 2018. He was also to receive separate payments of $160,000 for each January 31 he was employed between 2019 and 2022.

He also forgoes bonuses that could add another $12 million if his team was successful on the field and in the classroom.

According to the third addendum in Meyer’s contract, the Ohio State head coach could receive bonuses of $50,000 for winning the Big Ten East, $100,000 for winning the Big Ten, $200,000 for appearing in a College Football Playoff bowl game and $250,000 for appearing in a College Football Playoff semi-final game.

However, if his team were to advance to the College Football Playoff finals, he would not receive the $250,000 but would instead be receive $350,000.

The contract also offers bonuses of $50,000 for winning Big Ten Coach of the Year and $75,000 for National Coach of the Year. Despite winning three Big Ten titles and a national championship, Meyer never received either of the two coach of the year awards.

If Ohio State had chosen to buy Meyer out of his contract after this season, Meyer would have received a buy-out of $38,058,402. Meyer would only receive that money if his contract was terminated by the university for a reason beyond one deemed as “for cause.”

In an extension signed in March of 2018, Ohio State and the head coach agreed on this buy-out amount unless Meyer’s contract had been terminated “for cause.” The contract would be void if the head coach violated Ohio State’s Sexual Misconduct Policy and Title IX, which includes sexual harassment, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, intimate violence and stalking.

Meyer was suspended for the first three games of the 2018 season after he had “failed to adhere to the precise requirements” of his contract, in terms of responding to the domestic violence allegations made against former Ohio State wide receivers coach Zach Smith, according to the summary of investigative findings released on Aug. 22. Meyer was docked two separate payments of $285,253.84 as a result of his suspension.

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